How do atheists explain how the world was created – Dan Holliday

A wonderful (layman) description of the cosmogony without any religion involved. As someone said “read this with Carl Sagan voice in your head”. The text also successfully managed to capture the brevity of man in the history of the universe. 622 signs out of 195,000.

Majestic.


Several billion years ago, a molecular cloud – a nebula – of almost pure hydrogen (in the general area where our star was to be) sat, relatively motionless. It did not contain sufficient gravitational mass to coalesce and even if it did, it would merely be a star system with some gaseous planets. No heavier elements existed within the nebula to allow rocky, silicon, carbon, iron planets to form.

Several light years away, existed a super-massive star. Probably many hundreds, if not thousands of times our current star’s mass. It was one of the fore-mothers of our section of the galaxy. She probably only lived a few million years, as she – being a super giant – burned through her fuel at a hyper-rapid pace. This was around 4.6 billion years ago and her life came to an abrupt and fortunate end. So large was she, that her collapse was to form the largest type of explosion in the universe – second only to the Big Bang.

That explosion is called a supernova and it caused a shock wave of heavier elements (formed during its collapse) to blast out towards our stellar nursery consisting of simple hydrogen atoms. That shock wave caused the nebula to compress just enough for its very weak gravity to begin to have an affect on all the matter within the cloud. Included in that blast were the rare elements that made our existence possible: carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, iron, nickel, silicon, calcium and dozens more. The guts of that super giant, cast out during the death of our grandmother star, have been recycled into the bodies of every living creature that ever existed on the Earth.

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Cryptomonnaies : l’argent autrement… et plus loin

La séance sera consacrée aux cryptomonnaies, et notamment à Bitcoin (la plus capitalisée) et Monero, (la petite dernière qui capitalise… le meilleur de la réflexion sur les cryptomonnaies).

Nous aurons l’honneur de recevoir David LATAPIE. Gascon et Parisien, David LATAPIE travaille depuis 2014 dans le domaine des cryptomonnaies. Géographe et informaticien de formation, il est membre du comité directeur de Monero, une cryptomonnaie respectant la vie privée et la neutralité du net. Il se concentre plus particulièrement sur la promotion des cryptomonnaies et l’étude des impacts sociétaux de celles-ci sur le monde de demain.

Les cryptomonnaies sont des processus logiciels communautaires permettant grâce au cryptage d’échanger de façon sécurisée et virtuelle des unités de comptes. Elles sont donc techniquement utilisables comme monnaie par des communautés humaines les adoptant à cette fin. La valeur d’échange d’une unité de compte d’une cryptomonnaie se développe au fur et à mesure qu’une communauté importante adopte cette cryptomonnaie et l’utilise pour des échanges de plus en plus en plus importants.

Selon David LATAPIE les cryptomonnaies sont une affaire non seulement sérieuse, mais également salutaire. Il nous narrera la genèse des cryptomonnaies, leur utilité et la motivation de leurs créateurs et de leur adopteurs précoces. Il décrira leur fonctionnement général, leurs avantages et leurs inconvénients, ainsi que les mesures palliatives à ces inconvénients. Il fera un rapide tour d’horizon en détaillant la plus connue t la plus capitalisée, Bitcoin. Il présentera également les applications non-financières, en terme de réduction des coûts, d’automatisation des tâches juridiques et d’internet des objets. Enfin il détaillera Monero, une nouvelle cryptomonnaie sur laquelle il travaille afin de neutraliser les défauts des cryptomonnaies précédentes et notamment Bitcoin. David LATAPIE accorde une grande importance à cette démarche pour que les hommes libres restent maîtres de leur destin.

Qu’est-ce qu’une monnaie ? Qu’est-ce qu’une cryptomonnaie ? Pourquoi introduire Monero ? C’est autour de ces questions que nous vous proposons de débattre le lundi 16 mars à 20h00 au café le Coup d’Etat, 164, rue Saint Honoré, 75001 Paris (M° Palais Royal) !

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Facing overpopulation

One problem: overpopulation. Three solutions: war, environmentalism, space exploration.

Problem

Overpopulation: economy rests on the postulate of an “empty world” (no food here, walk a bit further to get it). Since the discovery of Australia and the oil crisis of 1973, we live in “fully-filled world” (“monde plein”, Georges Duby) and we are not used to deal with that.

Solutions

  • War: evil and innefficient (only postpone the inevitable by temporarily releasing the demographic pressure).
  • Environmentalism: most desirable (eco-economic_decoupling, sustainable long term).
  • Space exploration: most probable, because of the principle of least energy: perpetuating old habits (looking for empty world) costs less than changing them (being able to live with what we have).

I predict that the future will be a mix of the three solution, with space exploration having the lion’s share.

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On passwords

I historically preferred to avoid a software for password (what I call “dedicated software”), because you constantly run into situations like “no access to your machine”, “no battery on the phone”, “what if no internet”, “inconvenient”, “place your data in the hand of a party that can go bust”, etc.

But I’m starting to considering it.

My present password strategy, which I call “pattern-based”, is this: use a high entropy password (estimated 98 bit on http://rumkin.com/tools/password/passchk.php) with a part that is always the same (the high entropy part) and a part that can hinted by contextual information (and has low entropy). For instance, “!?.op.” plus the three last letters of the domain name (excluding the TLD).

I see three problems here:

  1. First, password-reuse. There is still a pattern. If I happen to enter my password on a site that gets hacked or is just malicious, the pattern can be identified. Of course, chances are low that the hacker bothers when he has so much other simpler password at its disposal.
  2. Second, no change of password. It is nigh impossible to periodically cycle through all the websites to change the password (a database would make it less difficult because I would not have to remember all the websites but it would still be very tedious, to the point it would simply not be done). And if I don’t spend days changing the password on all the websites in a row, I would then have to remember three or four different patterns.
  3. Exception handling. You will always find a website that doesn’t allow one of your character (same issue with the space in passphrases) or places an upper limit in characters (particularly annoying for passphrases). Those exceptions must be handled by hand. On the opposite, with dedicated software, there is basically no exception, since there is no rule.

As you can see, both approaches (pattern-based and dedicated software) have their limits.
A friend in IT security gave me this answer:

passwordsafe by Bruce Schneier is open source. Some features: hierarchical encrypted storage, password never displayed visibly, protected from dictionary attach, no disk swapping, encrypted in memory and more.
I have hundreds of passwords, all distinct, all unguessable and I don’t know any of them.

I’ll give it a try.

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The abandonment of control

This is worrisome:

  • What is a browser? – Don’t know
  • What is the difference between a browser and a search engine? – Don’t know
  • What is the difference between Google and a browser? – Don’t know
  • Do you use Internet? – No, I use Facebook

See by yourself:

But this is not the most concerning part. The most concerning part is that it is normal.

In the nineteenth century, every car owner was also a car pilot and an accomplished mechanics, as well as a fountain of knowledge on cars. Years later, the amount of knowledge fell so low that it became mandatory to pass an exam and to obtain a driving licence to merely drive a car (don’t even talk about fixing it, and this happened way before the so-called “electronic bloat”) – the first nationwide mandatory exam was in France, in 1899. Nowadays, most people only know the bare minimum about maneuvering a car (and almost nothing about fixing it) and the statistics of road accidents are daunting (even if they were worse in th 70’s, contrary to popular belief). In the future, cars will eschew the driver altogether (probably for the better when it comes to road safety) and we will eventually have a majority of autonomous cars (same for planes, by the way).

I expect the same to happen for computing. Increasing digital analphabetism, increasing assistance and ultimately, computers will do the job for you (remember Google’s vision? you won’t have to search, we will anticipate what you want). Who’s in charge? Most of the time, you won’t be in charge and you will be left with just enough of an illusion of control to be fine with it.

This is not paranoia or dystopia, this is the natural course of life. Spend as few energy as possible (this not always negative: increases in efficiency come out of the quest for least energy).

There will always be knowledgeable people in computing, as there will always be knowledgeable people in cars. We just have to abandon the idea that a sizeable part or our acquaintance will know how it works. And understand that power over computing will get more and more concentrated, due to the sheer lack of education. Could gamification change this? Not sure.

And the same will go for Monero, but frankly, if this is the price to pay for wider use, I’m happily willing to pay it.

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